2023 Appalachian Stakes Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content

By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)

1. BEAUTIFULNAVIGATOR (12-1) – Had a good winter at Fair Grounds once she got back on turf, though fields she was facing don’t stack up well, class-wise, to the competition others in this field have been facing; figures to get a bit more pace help here than she did in New Orleans, but main concern remains that she hasn’t faced a field of this caliber yet; seemingly a tough spot.

2. PAPILIO (6-1) – An excellent U.S. debut in the Herecomesthebride (G3); overcame early trouble to make a race of it at the end, just missing in a three-way photo while edging the more highly rated Cairo Consort for the place; got her own taste of facing bears in Ireland when a distant sixth in the Moyglare Stud (G1), in which Tahiyra and eventual Breeders’ Cup winner Meditate ran one-two; this one deserves respect, especially if anywhere near this ML price.

3. CAIRO CONSORT (3-1) – Easily the most battle tested member of the field with nine starts to date; among the best on the continent last fall, courtesy of her Breeders’ Cup placing, and kept plenty busy at Gulfstream over the winter when falling a head short of winning three straight stakes; credentials speak for themselves and main knock is that price will remain depressed with Irad sticking around, as there isn’t a whole lot separating her and others that will offer more pari-mutuel appeal.

4. HEAVENLY SUNDAY (8-1) – Fell a touch short in the Sweetest Chant (G3) against a pair of Pletcher fillies that had been more active over the winter; reunites here with Geroux, who was aboard for the solid allowance win over this course in late October, and a chance here for Cox fans to get a nice price on a horse that remains with plenty of upside.

5. ALPHA BELLA (9-2) – Switch to grass and addition of blinkers have certainly made this filly a serious division player; solid attempt against stablemate Cairo Consort in the Sweetest Chant two back, and then just missed catching Mission of Joy in the Florida Oaks (G3); doesn’t need to find a whole lot more to be a win threat and price should be agreeable.

6. BE YOUR BEST (8-1) – Admittedly liked this filly as a longshot play in the Breeders’ Cup last fall after running evenly over softish ground in the Miss Grillo (G2), but never looked like firing even before she encountered the traffic trouble in the stretch; price figures to be nearly as nice in this second spin over the local lawn, but obviously has some form to find against Pleasant Passage and others.

7. PLEASANT PASSAGE (5-2) – The best U.S.-based juvenile turf filly last season following a win in the Miss Grillo and a runner-up finish to the Coolmore-owned Meditate in the Breeders’ Cup over this course; most notable change is that Irad jumps to leading client Pletcher’s filly Cairo Consort, so make of that what you will; sharp works at Payson and obviously demanding of all the respect in this season debut.

8. SABALENKA (30-1) – Versatile filly has won from off the pace and on the lead, and belated rally in the Jessamine (G2) not bad, given how much ground and position she gave up early (she was only a length away from finishing second); figs don’t match up well, but that’s the only knock on this morning line longshot who could be a useful kicker on the lower rungs of the vertical exotics.

9. WELL INTO (10-1) – Seemingly much better now than when she first met Alpha Bella in her debut, though had the benefit of being the controlling speed in winning maiden and allowance races at Gulfstream; certainly bred to be graded quality, with Into Mischief on top and notable G2/G3 types Smart Bid and Fugitive Angel up close on the female side, but this spot perhaps a notch too tough to start.